Hongkong Post plans to cover the royal cyphers on 59 street post-boxes from the British era, in order to avoid confusion with the other post-boxes.
Peter Li Siu-man, senior campaign manager of the Conservancy Association, met Postmaster General Jessie Ting Yip Yin-mei on September 9. Li was told that the royal cyphers would be covered by metal plates showing the hummingbird logo of Hongkong Post, unifying them and making it easier to recognise them.
Li told Apple Daily that Hongkong Post officials have told him that they planned to gradually “de-colonise”, and covering the royal cyphers could be a related act. He said he could not accept Hongkong Post doing this without consultation, and if it did not scrap the plan, he might urge Hong Kong people to tie ribbons on the post-boxes in protest.
He had suggested using a movable cover to allow people to see the original royal cyphers, but this was rejected by Hongkong Post.
Showing change in history
Sin Wai-man, captain of a group “HK Post-Box Search Team” which aims at searching for and preserving old post-boxes, told the newspaper that the royal cyphers showed the change in the royal family and the age of the post boxes, so “they are the most essential parts”.
He said that covering the royal cyphers would destroy their history. “People will not be able to know when the post box was first used, or the story behind it.”
He added that many post boxes from the British era were made specially for Hong Kong, reflecting the mix of Chinese and Western culture. He urged Hongkong Post to stop the plan and save these historical artifacts on the streets.
The group also met Assistant Postmaster General Amy Ng on September 23, and were told of plans for some of the old post boxes in use to be removed, and placed next to historic buildings for the public to visit.
Sin said that the old post boxes could be used for 150 years and they were still working properly, “putting usable posting boxes inside museums – is that any different from killing it at all?”
The 59 old post boxes remaining in use in Hong Kong are of different ages, including seven with the royal cyphers GRV for King George V, two GRVI for King George VI, 49 with ERII for Queen Elizabeth II, and just one with a Crown of Scotland in Central, according to the website of HK Post-Box Search Team.
The group wrote on their website that the King George V and King George VI post boxes in Hong Kong — except one that was privately imported from UK — bear royal cyphers different in design from their counterparts in the UK or other British colonies, so they could be unique in the world.
Two post-boxes with royal cypher VR for Queen Victoria are on display in the General Post Office in Central and History Museum in Tsim Sha Tsui.
After the handover, the previously red post-boxes were painted green.
There are 1,148 post-boxes in Hong Kong. Hong Kong stopped importing post-boxes from the UK in the 1980s.
In September, former Beijing official Chen Zuo’er said that the failure of Hong Kong’s ‘de-colonisation’ is the cause of the city’s social and economic problems.